Interview with Art Director Atsuhiro Tsuchiya
※This article is machine translated.
Ability to take initiative and act on your own initiative to make the business and services work for you
(Photo and article from “Cocone’s 10th Resume,” published November 13, 2019, wantedly)
Cocone’s services, such as Pokecolo, Cats Atelier, and Sensil, are gaining popularity among women. The power of these services is largely due to the efforts of designers, who make up more than half of the company’s employees. For this interview, we spoke with Ms. Tsuchiya, who worked as a freelance designer for many years on well-known titles and is now Cocone’s art director, about Cocone’s features from a design perspective.
Introduction of Mr. Tsuchiya
Atsuhiro Tsuchiya, Art Director, Cocone Corporation
Graduated from Kuwasawa Design School and became a freelancer. He has planned and designed character contents such as “Dancing Girl Clinoppe” and “Settorlin the Livable Fairy,” and was commissioned as an art advisor for Pokecolo’s “Tsuri-no-Hoshi” from 2015, before joining Cocone in 2017.
[ Representative work ]
Livly Island (planning, original story, design)
Dancing Girl Clinoppe (original story and design)
Settling Fairy Settlerin (planning, original story, design)
Kingdom Hearts Mobile (Character Design)
Final Fantasy Brigade (character and logo design)
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (character and logo design)
Tamako and Cockbow (character design)
Reporter: “Mr. Tsuchiya has been involved in the design of numerous productions. We would like to introduce Ms. Tsuchiya and ask her about Cocone’s design challenges through her past experiences. Please give my regards to Ms. Tsuchiya.”
Tsuchiya: “Pleased to meet you.”
Reporter: “First, may I ask about the event that brought Tsuchiya and his design together?”
Tsuchiya:”When I was a kindergarten student, I once scraped my foot in the school. Seeing me in so much pain, my teacher at the time drew a flower circle on the injured area using an ointment. The pain mysteriously eased and I felt excited as if I had received a medal rather than a negative image of my injury, which became a good memory for the rest of my life. Looking back on it now, I think this event became my [ starting point ] as a designer. After that, I became fascinated with drawing pictures, and I also have a memorable memory of a girl in my class who cherished the portrait I drew for her. The reason I decided to pursue a career in design was that I was attracted to the idea of creating something for someone other than myself, something that would entertain others and be commercially viable, rather than creating something for self-satisfaction or self-expression. With the advice of an acquaintance of mine who is a painter, I decided to go to an art school as well.”
Reporter: “I see, so your experience from kindergarten led you to the opportunity to create things after that. I heard that you were a freelancer before joining Cocone.
Tsuchiya: “I never consciously set out to become a freelancer specifically. After entering a technical college, I felt a sense of crisis because there was not enough practical content for becoming a professional, so I started working and participating in off-campus events. That gradually led to a connection, and before I knew it, I was working as a freelancer directly after graduating from the technical college.”
Reporter: “Indeed, if the community is only on campus, it may be difficult to grow because there are few opportunities to be evaluated by others. How did you end up joining Cocone after that?”
Tsuchiya: “My connection with Cocone came about through a relationship I made in a previous project I was working on. I heard that a company called Cocone was looking for someone to provide design advice, so I contacted an acquaintance and went to see the company.
Reporter: “Do you have any impressions of that time?”
Tsuchiya: “I remember being surprised to find a company with so many designers (about half of the employees). In many of the companies I have seen and heard about, the status of designers is low, and it seems that it is difficult for them to be proactive as individuals, just making what they are told. When I was a freelance designer myself, I thought that authorship was not important for services. However, Cocone was able to make it work as a commercial service by taking advantage of the perspective that designers have and struggling with it on a daily basis as the company took on the risk. I also learned from the way the employees approached their work that Cocone’s desire to value both authorship and commerciality created a company culture of being sincere in its approach to manufacturing.”
Reporter: “In what specific situations did you feel that way?”
Tsuchiya: “For example, at regular meetings of Pokecolo’s product planning (that’s what we call the item designers), the designers present and review what they have planned, proposed, and produced, and discuss how to make improvements based on statistical data figures rather than just on a vague impression or hunch. We also discuss how we can improve based on statistical data, rather than just on impressions or intuition.”
Reporter: “It is true that Cocone values the opinion and authorship of each employee to create a good service, and at the same time, I feel that Cocone requires its designers to work hard to improve the service. I would say this is the best feature of the company. How did you get involved after that, Mr. Tsuchiya?”
Tsuchiya: “As an outside director (outsourced work), I became involved in Pokecolo’s “Tsuri-no-Hoshi” and new projects as art director. As I worked with these people, I felt that I would be able to realize a new service with a uniqueness that could not be easily imitated by others! I was so excited that I decided to work for a company for the first time in my life. I look forward to the possibilities of imagination that Cocone’s employees will continue to bring to the table.”
Reporter: “Of all the companies you have been involved with, Tsuchiya-san, Cocone seems to have a unique culture and potential for evolution. Now, may I ask what you think designers should keep in mind, Mr. Tsuchiya?”
Tsuchiya: “I often compare design to cooking. The designer is the cook. We serve food to customers who come to our restaurant. The customers are very pleased and ask questions like this. This meat is really delicious. What kind of meat is this? The chef should not be unable to answer the customer’s question. The chef is responsible for the safety and health of the food, and he or she must research what ingredients to use and how to prepare them in a way that will please the customer. I believe that designers must have this awareness as well.”
Reporter: “Are you saying that I have to have a deep understanding of and responsibility for the services I’m involved in, rather than just performing assigned tasks?”
Tsuchiya: “That is correct. I think the services we are involved in can be called entertainment in a broad sense. Entertainment is something different from the food, clothing, and shelter that people need, but it is something that nourishes our hearts and feeds our lives. It broadens one’s values and perspective, and expands one’s place in life. Thus, as long as we are involved in some way in people’s lives, we believe that there is a responsibility that comes with it, just as there is with serving food in a restaurant. For this reason, we tell our in-house designers to be aware of their responsibility for design. We are not just creating something as a hobby, but there is always a customer at the end of what we are creating. What I create may cheer that person up, or it may make him or her feel sadness or anger. It may even change their lives drastically. Even at Cocone, where we value the individuality of our designers, we are not working in a self-indulgent manner, but are always conscious of what we want to deliver to our customers.”
Reporter: “I had an image that designers are only required to have high skills and a wealth of ideas, but before that, what do you want to deliver to the customer who is delivering the product, and do you have a sense of responsibility for what you deliver? I think that because Cocone has so many designers, we should not forget to be aware of these things. Finally, may I ask what Cocone’s challenges are for the future?”
Tsuchiya: “Cocone values people with compassion and can freely express its opinions to other divisions and the company itself. I think it is good that this norm has been established. However, the ability to take things for granted also means that we are less likely to accept the opinions of others, and there is a danger that this will lead to fear of change and slower growth. In order to promote the growth of Cocone and our business, I feel that we need to make use of our past experiences and systems, while actively increasing opportunities to learn about the outside world, and accepting new talents and values within the company, so that our environment will change daily and become more diverse. Cocone will continue to change. In this environment, designers need to be able to think outside of the box, to see the business and services as their own, and to be able to take action on their own initiative. I would be happy to give form to the sensibilities that have been nurtured in Cocone’s wonderful environment and culture, and deliver to our customers many things that will touch their hearts and minds.”
Reporter: “Yes, that’s right. I think it will be a great stimulus for Cocone in the future if not only internal cohesion can be achieved, but on the other hand, if various opinions can be incorporated with positive input from the outside. Thank you for your time today!”